Effects of Burmshing

Colored pencil burnishing is a versatile technique. It is also one that must be actually done for a full appreciation of its possibilities for fine manipulation of a drawing's surface. Like most techniques 1 hat rely on heavy pencil pressures. burnishing also can give a drawing a painterly quality.

Although the elements in this next drawing include a variety of object surfaces—including glazed ceramic ware and a rubbery jade plant—all these surfaces can be burnished—and all with different results.

1. On a resilient paper, the elements of this drawing's composition were laid in with a graphite pencil. The dominant color scheme is a primary triad of red, yellow, and blue, with secondary mixtures of orange, violet, and green.

Pencil Drawings StemsTonal Pencil Drawing

2. The first tonal hues were applied at this stage. Because values darken as additional layers are added, these first layers of color were kept rather light. A 918 orange was used for the tabletop. a 931 purple for the background. For the branching stems of the jade plant, the artist used a 948 sepia as a basic color, combined in some areas with 911 olive green and 932 violet.

The leaves—developed earlier than some of the other elements because they arc not to contain many color layers— were drawn with a 911 olive green and some 903 true blue as reflected light. A few surface pores previously impressed with tracing paper are revealed here.

The dominant hue of the ceramic container is 933 blue violet, with an area at its center toned with 924 crimson red and 922 scarlet red to suggest local color changes. The artist used a 942 yellow ochre pencil at its bottom to indicate a reflection of the tabletop. Note how in several places the white of the paper was preserved for highlights. The soil in the container was suggested with light and dark patches of 937 Tuscan red.

Localcolor Light

3. Additional layers of color were carefully and evenly applied over the first layers. In the background. 918 orange was added to the lower right side of the background. The artist also used a 929 pink near this area, at the rear of the tabletop, and a 916 canary yellow toward the front. Some 901 indigo blue was added to the soil in the container. The artist added some 931 purple and a little 903 true blue to the container itself.

4. For the burnishing, the artist started with the container, and used a 938 white with heavy pressure as the burnishing pencil. She disregarded shapes and boundaries of color as she layered the white evenly over them. On the leaves and the plant the white was layered loosely over the dark and medium values, but it was not used on the very lightest values. For the background and the tabletop, the artist applied the 938 white more loosely still, almost linearly. Some of these areas were left unburnished.

Evaluation: Among the effects of burnishing is a general overall lightening of values. When burnishing is planned as a last and final step for a drawing, you can take this into account beforehand, and you can deepen your values in preparation. When burnishing is part of your drawing process however, some values will need restating.

In this drawing, some of the dark values needed firming up. especially those in the container and in the leaves. The leaves at the rear needed to be subdued. There was also too much contrast in the plant's branching stem, which needed to be reduced. The yellow foreground appeared to need a bit of lightening, and the soil in the container seemed to need more development: more hue and more complexity of value.

Value Jade

Potted Jade, 6%" x 8W (16.8 x 22 cm), by Bet Borgeson

Bet Borgeson

5. The drawing was completed by adjusting the various value contrasts. To restate the dark values in the container some 933 blue violet and 924 crimson red were drawn linearly into the burnished tonal areas, following the container's general contours. A similar darkening was given the plant's leaves and stems with 911 olive green and 903 true blue. Some 948 sepia was also added to the leaves, and some 968 cold gray, very lightly to the stems. A 937 Tuscan red pencil was lightly applied to the three leaves at the rear to lessen their contrast with the background.

The soil in the container was further developed and darkened with four hues—911 olive green. 924 crimson red, 918 orange, and 932 violet. To lighten the burnished yellow foreground. the artist firmly pressed a kneaded eraser onto it. This lifted away the pencil material not covered by burnishing, but did not change the burnished areas, which produced an effect of sharp value contrasts.

How vertical colored pencil lines are drawn back into a burnished area can be seen in this enlarged detail. Although the primary purpose of these lines is to darken value, they also reveal a gain in intensity because the burnished surface is slightly more reflective than an unburnished surface.

Potted Jade, 6%" x 8W (16.8 x 22 cm), by Bet Borgeson

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